Card Counting in Blackjack Explained

Card counting is essentially a method or ability used by a player to try and determine or predict the values of the cards to be dealt based on previous hands. With this knowledge, players can adjust their strategy in such a way as to improve their odds against the dealer, and increase their chances of winning.

Card counting is such a popular concept that there have been hundreds of books written on the topic. There are at least 10 different common methods that can be attempted, and each is based on mathematical formula designed to track the movement of cards in a deck, and increase the odds in the players favour. While the systems seem simple enough, it takes a great deal of talent to be able to actively remember the formulas necessary to track the game.

There is a lot of controversy as to whether card counting is strictly legal or not. While all casinos worldwide strictly ban the use of card counting devices, and most countries consider the use of such devices illegal, there is some inconsistency about whether to ban players who are capable of card counting without a device. For example, in New Jersey in the United States, the gaming commission decreed that card counting is a skill of the player, and cannot be grounds for banning them from the casino. However, casinos in Nevada will ban any person they suspect of card counting from their premises, and there is no legislation to prevent it.

Casinos have a number of strategies they use to counteract card-counting practices used by their players. Some countermeasures are as simple as assigning casino staff to engage the suspect in conversation, so as to break their concentration. Others can be a lot more technical, including the use of heuristic devices that track players betting behaviour and compare it to the amount of cards dealt. Dealers will also reshuffle the cards after a large bet is placed, or whenever they suspect someone is counting, so as to throw off the count.

Card counting continues to be a controversial topic, with no clear way forward as to whether it’s strictly legal or not. New strategies continue to be created and casinos will continue to devise counter measures. Perhaps the best strategy of all is to simply enjoy the element of risk and have fun while playing a great game of Blackjack.